Global DNA hypomethylation in intratubular germ cell neoplasia and seminoma, but not in nonseminomatous male germ cell tumors.
ABSTRACT Alterations in methylation of CpG dinucleotides at the 5 position of deoxycytidine residues (5(m)C) are a hallmark of cancer cells, including testicular germ cell tumors. Virtually all testicular germ cell tumors are believed to be derived from intratubular germ cell neoplasia unclassified (IGCNU), which is thought to arise from primordial germ cells. Prior studies revealed that seminomas contain reduced levels of global DNA methylation as compared with nonseminomatous germ cell tumors. Smiraglia et al have proposed a model whereby seminomas arise from IGCNU cells derived from primordial germ cells that have undergone 5(m)C erasure, and nonseminomas arise from IGCNU cells derived from primordial germ cells that have already undergone de novo methylation after the original erasure of methylation and contain normal 5(m)C levels. Yet the methylation status of IGCNU has not been determined previously. We used immunohistochemical staining against 5(m)C to evaluate global methylation in IGCNU and associated invasive testicular germ cell tumors. Strikingly, staining for 5(m)C was undetectable (or markedly reduced) in the majority of IGCNU and seminomas, yet there was robust staining in nonseminomatous germ cell tumors. The lack of staining for 5(m)C in IGCNU and seminomas was also found in mixed germ cell tumors containing both seminomatous and nonseminomatous components. Lack of 5(m)C staining was not related to a lack of the maintenance methyltransferase (DNA methyltransferase 1) protein. We conclude that testicular germ cell tumors are derived in most cases from IGCNU cells that have undergone developmentally programmed 5(m)C erasure and that the degree of subsequent de novo methylation is most closely related to the differentiation state of the neoplastic cells. That is, IGCNU cells and seminoma cells remain unmethylated, whereas all other histological types appear to arise after de novo methylation.
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ABSTRACT: Human male germ cell tumors (GCTs) arise from undifferentiated primordial germ cells (PGCs), a stage in which extensive methylation reprogramming occurs. GCTs exhibit pluripotentiality and are highly sensitive to cisplatin therapy. The molecular basis of germ cell (GC) transformation, differentiation, and exquisite treatment response is poorly understood. To assess the role and mechanism of promoter hypermethylation, we analyzed CpG islands of 21 gene promoters by methylation-specific PCR in seminomatous (SGCT) and nonseminomatous (NSGCT) GCTs. We found 60% of the NSGCTs demonstrating methylation in one or more gene promoters whereas SGCTs showed a near-absence of methylation, therefore identifying distinct methylation patterns in the two major histologies of GCT. DNA repair genes MGMT, RASSF1A, and BRCA1, and a transcriptional repressor gene HIC1, were frequently methylated in the NSGCTs. The promoter hypermethylation was associated with gene silencing in most methylated genes, and reactivation of gene expression occurred upon treatment with 5-Aza-2' deoxycytidine in GCT cell lines. Our results, therefore, suggest a potential role for epigenetic modification of critical tumor suppressor genes in pathways relevant to GC transformation, differentiation, and treatment response.Molecular Cancer 12/2002; 1:8. · 5.13 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Adult male germ cell tumors (GCTs) arise by transformation of totipotent germ cells. They have the unique potential to activate molecular pathways, in part mimicking those occurring during gametogenesis and normal human development, as evidenced by the array of histopathologies observed in vivo. Recent expression profiling studies of GCTs along with advances in embryonic stem-cell research have contributed to our understanding of the underlying biology of the disease. Gain of the short arm of chromosome 12 detected in almost all adult GCTs appears to be multifunctional in germ cell tumorigenesis on the basis of the observed overexpression of genes mapped to this region involved in maintenance of pluripotency and oncogenesis. Expression signatures associated with the different histopathologies have yielded clues as to the functional mechanisms involved in GCT invasion, loss of pluripotency, and lineage differentiation. Genomic and epigenomic abnormalities that contribute to or cause these events have been identified by traditional genome analyses and continue to be revealed as genome-scanning technologies develop. Given the high sensitivity of most GCTs to cisplatin-based treatment, these tumors serve as an excellent model system for the identification of factors associated with drug resistance, including differentiation status and acquisition of genomic alterations. Overall, adult male GCTs provide a unique opportunity for the examination of functional links between transformation and pluripotency, genomic and epigenomic abnormalities and lineage differentiation, and the identification of genetic features associated with chemotherapy resistance.Journal of Clinical Oncology 01/2007; 24(35):5512-8. · 18.04 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Testicular germ cell tumors account for 1% of all cancers, and are the most common malignancies to affect males between the ages of 15 and 34. Understanding the pathogenesis of testis cancer has been challenging because the molecular and cellular events that result in the formation of germ cell tumors are hypothesized to occur during human fetal development. In this review, the molecular pathways involved in human testis cancer will be presented based on our research in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), and also research using animal models. Testis germ cell tumors are unique in that the normal germ cell from which the tumor is derived has distinct stem cell characteristics that are shared with pluripotent hESCs. In particular, normal fetal germ cells express the core pluripotent transcription factors NANOG, SOX2 and OCT4. In contrast to hESCs, the germ line is not pluripotent. As a result, germ cell tumorigenesis may arise from loss of germ line-specific inhibitors which in normal germ cells prevent overt pluripotency and self-renewal and when absent in abnormal germ cells, result in the conversion to germ line cancer stem cells. At the conclusion of this review, a model for the molecular events involved in germ cell tumor formation and the relationship between germ cell tumorigenesis and stem cell biology will be presented.Stem Cell Reviews and Reports 02/2007; 3(1):49-59. · 4.52 Impact Factor